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The White City Walk

by I. Karpenko

Note: this is an automatic translation of an article from March 2006 published on lechaim.ru. Click here to see the original article.

Tyre Ofiussa, Alba Iulia, Levkopol, Asprokastro, Cetatea-Alba, ... City Akkerman, who bore the names of about 20, who had his army, minted its own coins, coined in the year 57 BC. e. own chronology ... The city, which is more than 2500 years and which, according to UNESCO, is one of the ten oldest cities in the world, maintain the continuity of existence. This contemporary of Athens and Rome stands on the bank of the Dnestr estuary, close to the very young (just 200 years!) In Odessa and has a new name in 1944 - Belgorod-Dniester.

Then we were afraid of the Sultan;
A rules Bucak Pasha
With high towers Akkerman ...
Pushkin, "Gypsies"

The famous fortress Akkerman, preserved (unlike Ismail) to this day, was erected in the period from XII until the middle of the XV century. Begins to build the Genoese, the Turks continued, but the form that it has today, it has acquired since the end of XIV to the middle of the XV century, during the rule of Moldavian rulers

City seen many invaders - from the Greeks and the Huns to the Mongols and Turks. It was under the authority of Rome, was part of Kievan Rus, its masters were the Venetians, the Genoese, Hungarians, Poles, Moldavians. Since 1484 - for 300 years - he was "under the Turks", and then became part of the Russian Empire from 1918 to 1940 year was part of Romania, in 1944 - is attached to the Soviet Ukraine.

These stones remember Herodotus, Nogai Khan and Sultan Bayezid; been here princes Kyi, Igor and Oleg, Svyatoslav. In 1789, the keys to the city took Mikhail Kutuzov, the then Major; visited these places and two exiles - Ovid Naso and Alexander Pushkin, Maxim Gorky visited here, Lesya Ukrainka ...

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, it is part of Bessarabia belonged to Russia. Then, after the next redistribution of Poland, Akkerman walked into a permanent feature of Jewish Settlement, however, the Jews in the ancient city appeared from time immemorial.

In the Soviet era, Belgorod-Dniester was a wonderful city in which to work a few decent companies, offers a variety of educational institutions and military units. Its inhabitants were cheerful and welcoming and wonderful climate, proximity to the sea, not expensive Bessarabian wine and rich history of the region, backed by a live illustration - Gromada mysterious fortress, set up on the cute everyday joys, and philosophical reflections. But plants have risen, military units disbanded, excavations in the fortress stopped. Akkermantsam was not fun to contemplation and not to ...

Only the stubborn Jews (those who have not left) to recall the past, pre-war Jewish life, while trying to revive the current. Standing on the multimeter thick fortress wall, cheerful tour guide by the name of Marina conviction proves to us that the Jews in the city were in the 70's a new era, along with the Greeks. Marina's father hosted in a nice wine cellar Akkerman as still continue to refer to the city of its residents, and the theme "On the banks of the ancient Jewish people Tiras" (the ancient name of the Dniester River), we continued in his soul of the company ...

However, the main our guides on the Belgorod became the rabbi of the South of Odessa region Fischl Chichelnitsky and chairman of the local Jewish community, Vladimir Markovich Krichevsky. The two "pillars" on which rests the Jewish life of the city. And one of the first "objects" of our trip was ... the old Jewish cemetery.

... The word "pogrom" has entered into many languages of the world - it is a fact that the "great and mighty" can hardly be proud of. However, the blame for this is not Russian language soon, and Russian history ... Pogroms not spared and solar Bessarabia, and White City - Akkerman.

The first anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia took place in 1821, 1859, 1871 in Odessa, and in 1862 - in Akkerman. Their main participants were the local Greeks, the main cause of riots - a banal competition, the reasons for them to invent a variety of surprising and absurd. 1903rd - year ... terrible Kishinev pogrom in 1905 entered into the black pages of the history of Rostov-on-Don, Odessa and Akkerman. Victims of the massacre have been buried at the local Jewish cemetery.

Vladimir Krichevsky historian by training, he soon 80 years, 52 of which he worked as director of the school, taught history, right ... It shows the graves of those killed in the pogrom in 1905. Installed on these sites - in the form of sawn wood. Here buried and desecrated during the pogrom Torah ...

"Our city for over 25 centuries, the Jewish cemetery - the order of 2000 years, it is one of the oldest in Ukraine, - says Vladimir Markovich. - Preserved very ancient tombs. For example, here it is buried adviser to the Turkish pasha. "

The cemetery covers an area of more than 4 hectares. For many years, abiding in a state of neglect, it gradually becomes "civilized". Thank you fellow countrymen who live in Israel. It turns out that there exists a community of former residents Akkerman, namely its members have collected a small amount with a view to put in order the graves in the Jewish cemetery of his hometown. "The old graves quite overgrown, - explains Rabbi Fischl - so the money raised we hired people, pruned trees, branches taken, ennobled cemetery, led him to order."

Today, decades later, in the Jewish cemetery of the White City on the Dniester funeral rite is performed again in accordance with Jewish law. But what is a few decades of atheistic tyranny of Soviet rule as compared with twenty centuries of the ancient cemetery? After the graves preserved here, which at 800, 900 and 1000 years!

Says Rabbi Fischl Chichelnitsky: "Anyone who wants to bury their loved ones today at the Jewish cemetery, do it according to the Jewish law. In Odessa, there are "Chevra Kadisha" - there come the dead man lay on the floor, wash - male or female, depending on the person who died. And we gather a minyan, we have a shroud - tahrihim. The only thing we have few young, so normally the soldiers digging the grave as well - no derogation from the Jewish law, nothing ... "

Rav Fischl continues his story about the history of the White City. It turns out that before the war in Akkerman had five synagogues - so far two have survived. In the coming new era in Ukraine Jewish community returned two buildings - the Choral Synagogue on Kirov Street, the former Jewish, synagogue and artisans at Izmail, which is now the Jewish Cultural Center.

"Choral Synagogue in this building was until 1940, the Romanians did not object. But, because Romania was a kingdom, the only requirement was that in the building, in addition to mogendovidov was crown. Jews and then "Remove the" - Jewish Crown Almighty they replaced the Romanian ... In the synagogue there was a mikveh, but it has not survived. In Soviet times the building Choral Synagogue was the gym ... We took her almost six years ago, in 2001, was the first Passover seder. Today in the synagogue, thank Gd, the Torah scroll has passed from Odessa Rabbi Gisser. That the Torah, which was once a synagogue in Akkerman, disappeared during the war. The local museum has a Torah scroll, and old people say that this is the one that was once in the Choral synagogue Akkerman - but the documents about this, alas, did not survive ... "

Story continues Rabbi Minister Vladimir Krichevsky community "kept women's gallery in the synagogue artisans. The Choral Synagogue on Kirov was also a balcony for women, but it was destroyed. And in the synagogue artisans saved by the fact that immediately after the war, it staged a military warehouse. Then he made school sports, but the internal layout as a whole remained the same. "

It is in Izmail in August 1941 in the building of the synagogue, the occupants of artisans herded 600 Jews, who did not leave the city. From here they were taken to a stone quarry, forced to dig a hole for themselves - and shot ...

We drive up to the port area. Not far from the gate - a small monument erected by the community, fences ... Earlier this place was a stone quarry, which produces the same stone-limestone, coquina, or from which the fortress was built and almost the entire city. In this career, and shot them. The memorial sign is on the site of the execution, and the innocent victims reburied the remains of the old Jewish cemetery ...

Red Army units left Akkerman on the night of 25 on 26 July. On the morning of July 26 here includes the occupation forces. The city began to "liberate" from the Jews, the Communists, activists and other "unreliable elements". According to eyewitnesses, the executions were carried out in several places: the fortress, in a quarry near the slaughterhouse, the Armenian cemetery in the area of the Jewish Hospital. Total in August-September 1941 the German-Romanian invaders shot and tortured nearly 4,000 Jews - for the fact that they were born Jews, and about 300 people of other nationalities - on suspicion of "disloyalty".

(From the book by Leonid Dusman "Remember! Do not repeat!")

Our trip would not be complete without the participation of a respected member of the Jewish community, its elders and, in fact, Belgorod-Dniester Gabai Synagogue - Jacob Kelmanovicha Frehtera. He was born in Akkerman in 1923, but despite its age, still rides a bike. Basically fishing - catching calves in the Dniester estuary. Sometimes it takes a Rabbi Fischl.

Reb Yakov graduated "Talmud-Torah" and "Tarbut", knows Hebrew, comes to every prayer ... When for the first time after many years Rabbi Fischl donned tefillin Yakov Kelmanovichu, he cried: This synagogue, on this very spot, he had bar mitzvah ... until recently, Reb Yakov Akkerman was prefect of the old cemetery, the Jewish rite of burying many who are now lying in the soil of this ancient ...

In conversation it is very simple, calm and benevolent. Jacob Kelmanovich gives the impression that many years ago realized some important things, which helped him survive the Romanians, Soviets, the war and post-war hard times. Perhaps there is an important event around here, in the old synagogue on the Jewish street. And perhaps these things he learned from a very important person in his life: perhaps from his father, and perhaps from the same distinguished and wise, like a father, man. It is this knowledge helped him live so that no fears and no power could not becloud his consciousness, his understanding of life - its priorities and spiritual values ...

Yakov Frehter: "In the courtyard, where we are now praying, there were three synagogues, two of them were demolished. Preserved Choral Synagogue - of course, she was not the same as it was, there was a woman's balcony, the other layout. When the Soviet authorities made an extension and now require us to give them huge amounts of money for these extensions, which no one needs!

When I was 14-15 years old, I sang in the choir of the synagogue. I still remember how in 1930 we went to the villages Khazanov on Jewish holidays - in Saratov, Starokozache and others. We had a boys' choir, we were hooded, singing Khazanov ... And so we sang here in Akkerman, at the synagogue. It was at Romanians. there were no religious activities During the Soviet era.

Here I was bar mitzvah: a specially hired Melamed, who was preparing me how and what you need to perform ... Then the synagogue was going to a full house. Several synagogues have been in the city, and in each - a lot of people ...

Synagogue away immediately when the Soviet government came, - in 1940, in the month of August, when I graduated from high school craft. Just when we were, as they said, "liberated". A year later, the war broke out. In general, we are of the Romanians "liberated" and immediately seized the synagogue! And then everyone began to gather at our house, we stayed in a private apartment. It lasted all the years after the war. "

His father, Reb Jacob was a respected man in the community, sitting on the seat of honor at the eastern wall. When it was the Soviet power, he began to gather the Jews at home and, in fact, organized a prayer house.

"In 1975, he died, but lived there my sister, and people kept walking into our home and pray. It was quite dangerous - could bring the minyan ... always was. At the apartment were collected until the sister went to Israel. She was already dead, buried in Israel ... "

Jacob Frehtera War found in Lviv, where he studied at the projectionist courses. "Only two, I happened to meet her parents in the Caucasus, Ordzhonikidze - they're working on the farm. Then we were in the Mari ASSR. There I earned a "valiant work". In 1947 he returned to Akkerman. The military hospital has worked as a projectionist for 20 years. Then he went to work in a printing house, where he worked for the same photo-exactly 20 years. Grass zinc, Port Health ... And then there was the veteran. And now I have one synagogue, a pensioner. "

Jacob Kelmanovich says in Akkerman was a lot of Jewish buildings. His words were confirmed by Prime Minister Vladimir Markovic community: until 1940 the Jewish community owned 11 buildings! However, two respected men in Belgorod - have different views on the former Jewish property.

"I studied for four years in a" Talmud Torah "- now there is a secondary school number 2. So do not otberesh children to school! - Reb Yaakov says. - Then I studied at the Hebrew Gymnasium "Tarbut", now in this building regional hospital. But it will not close the hospital! The building of the Jewish hospital Akkerman also built by Jewish money. At its opening in 1938, he visited the Romanian King Carol II. It was very solemn, makkabisty with flags, string orchestra went to the hospital, and after the opening of the hospital the king went to Chabot watch vineyards. So now in a wonderful building of the hospital, where every brick paid Jews are maternity and women's consultation of the city of Belgorod-Dniester. What can I say ... "

According to some sources, the construction of the Jewish Hospital Akkerman gave money Karolik Maxim - a native of Akkerman, of the patriarchal Hasidic family. Karolik was a wonderful tenor first studied in Odessa, then became a student of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, before the October Revolution he sang at the Mariinsky Theatre, and after she emigrated to the United States. And while we're talking about, he was already well-known in the US collector, philanthropist, to dispose of millions. It was he who allegedly allocated a large sum for the construction of the Jewish hospital in his hometown.

Another Jewish building, told us Vladimir Krichevsky, - the current Suvorov Street, the house number 11. There was a Jewish nursing home, in the yard which was matsepekarnya. After the war, he made an officer of the hostel, and matsepekarne - room laundress. Currently, the senior chain of command built there an apartment. On the streets of Moscow, 13, according to the chairman of the community, it was a Jewish bank, and the prayer room was in it.

Vladimir Markovic believes that his duty as Chairman is, among other things, the protection of Jewish property. "I'm 15 years have led to this community. If the chairman refuses to community property, it can not be chairman, "- he believes. And Vladimir Markovich selflessly fighting for the building once belonged to the Akkerman Jews.

"In 1940, the city population was 25,000, of which thoroughbred Jews - 4000, - says Vladimir Krichevsky. - The Jews had a law by which a tenth of their earnings gave the community - to help in the construction. The Akkerman were 11 Jewish houses, including 5 synagogues. The community built them contained, paid. Neither tsarist Russia or Romania, nor the Soviet Union did not invest a penny, and then once everything away and do not pay ...

- I do not want to aggravate relations, we are silent - sigh chairman of the community. - But there is a list, in all official documents of the executive committee - in which building it was. Just do not want to call the fire itself, it is necessary to solve questions wisely, so as not to say that "the Jews captured the city '..."

Memorial to the victims of the Jews during World War II.

Our acquaintance with the White city continues, and, of course, equal Fischl could not be included in the route of the tour object of his special pride - a Jewish school and kindergarten "Or Avner". Buried in flowers and greenery lovely building "was the Jewish" about six years ago.

Says Rabbi Fischl Chichelnitsky: "My wife and Leia came here in December 1999 for Chanukah - it was my first holiday here, just the third candle of Hanukkah. Immediately it became our dream - to open a kindergarten and a school! He met with the mayor, the head of the Education Department. City Belgorod-Dniester traditionally cosmopolitan, not anti-Semitic, so they gave us a good building - the former departmental local garden plant resistance. He is only 11 years old, very lucky that we got it exactly. Until the summer of 2000, we have solved the problems with the room, documents, and opened just six months. I believe that this played a role is not my strength - power helped the Rebbe and the Almighty ... "

It has its own security, kitchen, children are all day, learn, play, walk, sleep. School and kindergarten are the Odessa branch of the non-governmental educational association "Chabad Or Avner". Director Vladimir Sorokin and school teachers in the majority of highly qualified teachers, they participate in all seminars system "Or Avner" schools, teaching unions Odessa complex "Chabad Or Avner".

"We have a very productive collaboration with the children's school, its director Yakov Shostak - says Rabbi Fischl. - Yes, and city supports us. Belgorod-Dniester fortress hosts the annual festival "Bessarabian Compound" - our children play there, we represent the community, preparing a national Jewish dishes, there is a lot of fun. Our children regularly take first place in the various competitions - and urban and regional. In the summer, for five consecutive years, we will organize a joint Jewish children's camp with the other communities of the South of Ukraine. "

The school works choreographic, vocal and other clubs, on every holiday - its program with prizes and gifts. "At all events, which are organized by the community, the arrival of children is mandatory, and not alone, but with the parents" - continues Rav Fischl. The boys 16 years and older - has its own program, they participate in retreats, festivities.

The school also runs a Sunday Club for children who were unable to get to school. Akkermann - cosmopolitan city, there are a lot of mixed marriages, we must also take into account the "internationalist" atheistic education of the Soviet era. Sometimes grandparents go to the synagogue, and actively participate in community life, and their grandchildren, in Aloha, can no longer attend this school or to go to kindergarten. So grandparents can be very difficult to explain why all life in their faces, throwing "Yid snout", and now their grandchildren do not take in a free Jewish school ... for these kids and running the Sunday Club - with its program of training and entertainment, mugs and festive events. And grandmothers, grandfathers and attract - they come together with their grandchildren on Sundays at school, engaged in their circles and clubs.

Ya Rabbi Frehter and F. Chechelnitsky.

Sport Women's Club also held in the premises of the school "Or Avner". Constantly come some 35 women - are engaged in the study of Hebrew, traditions, gastronomy, handicrafts ...

"Schools and kindergartens" Or Avner "in Belgorod and Ishmael were opened at the same time, almost six years ago, - continues the story of the rabbi. - Where everything works and is provided "and from". Children, teachers, educators, kitchen, food, buses - all this is a single system, which, thanks to the support and well thought-out policy of fund "Or Avner", functions as a single organism. "

... In the ancient Belgorod There is plenty of legends: an imprint of the foot of Hercules on a rock in the river Tiras; on the grave of the poet Publius Ovid Naso, whose name is a city on the other side of the Dniester estuary, directly against Akkerman - Ovidiopol; Tira of the necropolis, storing countless treasures; about the mysterious Prince Oleg Tolmachev, who lived in the White City; Tiragetov on the island, the site of which appeared Dniester estuary ...


On a local custom to tell us other voluntary guides - actors of the theater "Beit rings" Yury Panchenko and Yuliya Osadchaya. "In the past there was a tradition that if a person wanted to come into the city, he had to bring here the stones that paved the streets - for themselves and for each member of his family. These "imported" cobblestones and wings Akkerman bridge ... "

Now, unfortunately, in Belgorod, everything happens exactly the opposite: the remains of an ancient fortress pulled apart by all and sundry. And, they say, not only dragged the stones, but even nuclei, entrenched in the thick walls of ...


However, everything changes. I want to believe that difficult times minutes, and in the White City on the Dniester will again bring the stones - to revive its former glory.

Rabbi F. Chechelnitsky

I. Karpenko


Bessarabia - the area between the rivers Prut and Nistru. On the west bank of the Dnestr estuary in the VI century BC. e. came from Miletus founded the city of Tyre (from the name of the river Tiras - "fast"), one of the first Greek colonies in the northern Black Sea coast. In the second half of the IV century BC. e. Tyre maintained close trade and cultural ties with the Hellenic world. City made a lot of destructive raids. In the II-III centuries BC. e. Here, along with the Greeks and Romans lived representatives of many tribes - Getae, the Dacians, Scythians, Sarmatians; here were Jews. Rome provided by local merchants the right to duty-free trade, defended the policy against the attacks of the nomads. Later, the city became an important point on the trade route "from the Vikings to the Greeks." By the V-VI centuries BC. e. Pontic colonize Slavic tribes, he became one of the southern outposts of Kievan Rus. In XII-XIII centuries the city was a member of the Galicia-Volyn principality. Then, in 500 years the region became a place of nomads of the Nogai Horde. By the end of the XIV century the city became a major trade and craft center and the port. There was a Genoese trading post, a short time the city was ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then acknowledged the supremacy of Moldovan rulers.

Almost a century Belgorod was the capital of the South of Moldova. This period was marked by the rapid development of trade, crafts, a notable economic recovery. An outstanding scholar and writer of the XV century Yuri Drohobych (Kotermak), who lived for some time in Belgorod, describes him as a "pretty big fair center." The ruler of Moldova Stephen the Great in the middle of the XV - beginning of XVI century had business and friendly relations with the Jews, who lived in Bessarabia. One of the advisers of the King, as well as his personal physician were Jews. In addition, Stephen the Great more than a year fighting for a trade route through the Chilia and Belgorod, in which negotiators drove, and was interested in economic relations with the local Jewish Diaspora.

With the end of the XV century, the city of the Ottoman Empire. In 1770, after the Battle of Cahul Turkish garrison surrendered to the Russian troops, but finally in the Russian Empire entered the city, like the rest of Bessarabia, in the beginning of the XIX century.

Jewish communities were formed in Southern Bessarabia already in the XVII century. By the end of the XVIII century a large number of Jews lived in all the cities of Bessarabia and in many villages. Their number in 1812 was estimated at 20 thousand people -. Mainly Ashkenazi Jews, but among them were Sephardim. In XVIII-XIX centuries the Jews in Bessarabia were engaged in petty trade and shinkarstvom.

Bessarabian Governor Prince SD Urusov wrote: "Bessarabia in 1903 there were about 250 thousand Jews constituted about 11% of the total population of the province.". According to the historian AI Zaschuka, in the 1858/1859 academic year, out of 399 schools, there were in Bessarabia, 129 were Jewish.

In 1920, Bessarabia was 267 thousand. Jews. As in other parts of Romania, they experienced the hostile attitude of the general population and have suffered from anti-Jewish measures, suspicion of government and administration of quibbles. And worsened the economic situation of the Bessarabian Jewry. All this has prompted many Jews to emigrate.

The spoken language of the majority of Jews Akkerman and Izmail districts remained Yiddish; significant influence in these places used Hasidism. Despite the opposition of the Romanian authorities, cultural and community life of the Jews of Bessarabia in 1920-1930-ies he continued to develop. Jewish kindergartens, schools "Tarbut" schools, nursing homes, hospitals functioned in Izmail, Akkerman and other cities. However, by the end of 1922 the government policy changed, and many of these schools have been converted into Romanian.

28 June 1940, Soviet troops entered Bessarabia. Then there are about 300 thousand. Jews, including refugees from other parts of Romania. The Jewish community, party and public institutions and organizations that existed in Bessarabia with the Romanian authorities, were closed.

German-Romanian troops occupied Moldavia at the end of July 1941. Many Jews managed to evacuate. Most of Moldova was a part of Bessarabia governor declared an integral part of the Romanian kingdom, smaller - in the Transnistria Governorate (Transnistria). In September, the deportation of the Jews of Bessarabia in the concentration camps and ghettos in Transnistria. There were sent about 75 thousand Jews.; thousands of them were killed on the road, only a third remained alive at the time of release.

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